Bulldogs Eating Custard

Dear Inner Circle,

In the whispered chill of the last week, there have been moments that breathe warmth back into our bones—moments where adversity draws forth the best of us. Amid the inclement weather, love and connection have reignited a comforting glow within our walls.

As the rain settles in, each morning sees a steady stream of soaked and shivering bodies filing into our community service centres. A hot shower and clean, dry clothes can work a miracle. Hot cups of tea and toast are received as if they were royal feasts, and the love that flows here has a healing and restorative power that must be seen to be believed.

Recently, one of our evening team members pulled me aside, moved to tears as she described the ongoing acts of kindness that unfold after we close our doors each night. Many of our seasoned street community members take it upon themselves to care for the “newbies”, often reserving a stash of warm clothes and spare dry blankets for such moments. These are acts of loving sacrifice the likes of which many of us will never know. Their life’s possessions, stuffed into blue, white, and red laundry bags, are often half-filled with items intended for others. To many passers-by, these bags may seem like rubbish, and are too often removed without a second thought, when often they are bags of gold.

One of Wayside’s strengths is our ability to respond to the changing needs of our community and the evolving socio-political landscape. Yesterday, a fledging men’s group gathered in our hall for the first time. The sight of men coming together and attempting to articulate their anxieties was heartening. Respecting confidentiality is important, but let me tell you that men, trying for the first time to put words to fears and anxieties while listeners are urged not to fix or provide solutions, is about as elegant as a bulldog attempting to eat custard. Yet, hope for a safer future for all lies in gatherings like this, amongst all the calls for urgent immediate action.

Some crises have spiritual, rather than merely political, solutions, emphasising the profound role that ritual plays for us all. We have many rituals that comfort us in times of uncertainty and confusion, guiding us toward a new understanding of what is possible for us once again as a society. Last Sunday night at Bondi Beach, I was part of a vigil to remember those killed in the shopping centre attack. We began with song, lit candles, and listened to moving speeches that reminded us of who we are—and who we are not. We finished with some wonderful, soul-stirring songs from the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation gospel choir, and you could see it was an opportunity to name our hurts, to name the pain that occurs in the world as it is but also to sustain a faith in what the world could yet become.

We will not fall apart if we can continue to hold together.

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle,


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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